keep calm and carry on

She has a calendar at home where she marks off the days since she last cried, and she is going for a new record. The old record is quite a large number of days, but things always fall apart in the end. Sometimes she'd break her streak for stupid reasons. Sometimes it was a good reason. She remembered each time perfectly, though she didn't write it down. All the calendar said was '8:44 pm.' And then, instead of a number like 47, the number became 0.

The calendar is there to tell her she has failed, not to make excuses for it.

The calendar is a secret, but she often practices what she'll say if someone asks her about it. She'll tell them, the world is full of terrible, senseless things, and it doesn't do anyone any good to cry about it. She has decided, she'll say, that she's going to survive, and to survive you have to be tough.

She has been practicing that since she started, several years ago. Sometimes her guests have asked about it, and she's always just made something up, mumbling under her breath. They seemed satisfied. Probably they weren't really even curious. The last time she cried, thirteen days ago, was because the boy she was seeing asked and then didn't even listen to her answer. She cried because he didn't care, and because she knew he didn't care, and because she still lied even though she knew he wouldn't pay attention to the answer.

Her relationships tended to be short, because mostly she was very good at being tough. Things didn't get to her, and sometimes that got to others. On some level she was drawn to those who still let the world get to them, though she couldn't have articulated why this was. She said she liked to see them get jaded.

But sometimes stupid things like this happened, and she cried when one of them became what she said she hoped he would be. And she still couldn't figure out why.


The Kitten Of Liberty said...

Morose but enjoyable, as always.

For some reason, I was picturing the woman as middle-aged, but then you mentioned 'the boy she was seeing' and I pictured a teenager. What age is she meant to be, if any?

Rob said...

late twenties, probably. I use the word 'boy' instead of 'man' for the same reason I use the word 'girl' instead of 'woman.' they sound more intimate and less clinical.

Rob said...

which is to say: it's not an indicator of age.

maybe she's a cougar though?

The Kitten Of Liberty said...

So I was wrong both times.

I tend to use 'guy' and 'girl' in the same way. For some reason, 'boy' seems too young. Also, 'cougar' in this context just means Courtney Cox to me. I can picture no other cougar.

Rob said...

well, at the risk of sounding pretentious, there's not really a wrong interpretation of these characters. the stories are snapshots and it is largely left to the reader to interpret the backgrounds.